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Posted on Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor signs $2,500 lease for extra customer parking near the popular Argo Cascades

By Ryan J. Stanton


A closeup look at part of the new Argo Cascades, which is attracting more people to the Argo Nature Area as the weather has warmed up.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The popularity of the new Argo Cascades feature on the Huron River may be bigger than the small parking lot near the city's canoe livery can handle.

Hoping to provide a solution, the Ann Arbor City Council on Monday approved a lease with Huron River Holdings Inc. for use of a nearby parking lot at 416 Longshore Drive.

The city will pay Huron River Holdings $2,500 to use the lot for spill-over parking on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from May 26 through Sept. 3.

Jeff Straw, the city's parks and recreation services deputy manager, told council members in a memo that the Argo Canoe Livery continues to be popular and heavily used, but it faces operational challenges trying to meet parking demand throughout the livery season.

The parking lot at 416 Longshore Drive, just east of the livery, will provide an additional 40 parking spaces. Straw said it's anticipated that increased revenue from kayak and canoe rentals will help offset the cost of leasing the parking lot for the season.

The city paid $1.17 million to reconstruct the bypass channel around Argo Dam in the old Argo millrace. For the first time since 1830 — when the channel was built to power mills — the small section of river is now free-flowing, with an old portage removed, and has been transformed into a series of nine drops and pools for people in tubes, rafts, canoes and kayaks to enjoy.

The clearing out of dead vegetation, planting of new grass and paving of the Border-to-Border Trail section has significantly improved the area's appeal and has attracted more walkers, runners and cyclists, as well as casual lingerers who simply want to enjoy the scenery.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3 a.m.

A question: Why is it that the two city golf courses are classified as "entrepreneurial enterprises" subjected to "allocated costs" that make them "lose" $250,000 annually while the Gallup Park livery and the Argo Cascades operations are supported by the general fund? The allocated costs relate to the pension fund for ALL city employees, information technology expenses, and general administrative costs city-wide not specific to the golf courses. Why aren't all income producing operations treated the same? The refusal to answer this question is why the Huron Hills golf course was put up "for sale" with the proposal to turn it into a golf driving range because it was a money loser. But aren't all park operations money losers?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

I suggested the parking fee due to the fact that a *free* lot will attract people who will park there all day. And it will happen.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

There's already a free lot right by the canoe livery. And honestly, the location of the new lot is so far from anything other than the canoe livery or the hike/bike trail, I strongly suspect most parkers will be using the parking lot for the intended purpose. There are tons of "free spots" that don't fill up all the time ... along most residential streets.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Thanks for the picture! I'm going to go check it out today.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

It is a welcome surprise that the city administration is doing something to ease access to a facility for those who reach it by car.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

The Argo Cascades ROCK! How cool to have such a feature in the sleepy midwestern college town I grew up in! I can't wait to see what is done on the river below the dam.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

The rapids are a wonderful park improvement. I love this city more and more every day. Now lets gets some more of that B2B trail complete so more people can enjoy this via bicycle. Keep up the good work Ann Arbor!!

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

I hope you own property in the city limits and are paying for this like the rest of us!

Joshua Perrin

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

While I agree that a2 is pretty awesome, I have to disagree with you about the b2b trail. I think that we have enough pavement in this town and I have always enjoyed the rustic trail and shade that the trees provided on that stretch. At the rate the city is going we will have some awesome bike lanes going through Bird trails and along the lakeshore drive trail where like in gallup park, cyclist can blaze through at 25 mph and baby strollers will be three abreast..


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Wow, it's refreshing to hear such a positive comment on this site instead of the flood of cynical whining. Agreed!

Ricardo Queso

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I can already smell the hemp burning.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

A little early for that, eh?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

Why? It seems like a perfectly appropriate use of the citizen-supported parks millage. It's effectively an expansion of a popular park. It's cheap. And it's a win-win as it reuses a parking lot that sits empty on weekends and holidays rather than building a new one.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

Hope they're planning on a parking fee to support this.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

People will abuse this lot like any other *free* lots in town. Oh, there isn't any free lots. People who come to use it for it was intended will find it difficult once the word gets out about a free place to park all day.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

A great idea for no other reason than to keep out the inevitable squatters.